LINGUIST List 16.653

Sat Mar 05 2005

Review: Ling Theories/Romance: Bok-Bennema et al. (2004)

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Sheila Collberg at


        1.    Ioana Dascalu, Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2002

Message 1: Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2002

Date: 04-Mar-2005
From: Ioana Dascalu <>
Subject: Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2002

EDITORS: Bok-Bennema, Reineke; Hollebrandse, Bart; Kampers-Manhe,
Brigitte; Sleeman, Petra
TITLE: Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2002
SUBTITLE: Selected papers from Going Romance, Groningen, 28-30 November
SERIES: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 256
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2004
Announced at

Ioana-Ruxandra Dascalu, Chair of General Linguistics, University of Craiova


"Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2002" is a collection of papers
held at the annual Conference "Going Romance 2002" at the State University
of Groningen, referring to Romance linguistics, with themes such as verb-
movement, topic, focus and reinforcement constructions, nominal ellipsis,
pronouns in child language.

M. Ambar, M. Gonzaga and Esmeralda Negrao in "Tense, Quantification and
Clause Structure in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese" (p. 1-
17) analyze the differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian
Portuguese in the distribution of the adverb "sempre", proposing two
interpretations: "sempre" as a confirmative word, whereby we mean "really,
indeed" and as a temporal one, meaning "always": European Portuguese
displays both of these forms, while Brazilian Portuguese excludes the
confirmative reading of the term. Preverbal and postverbal word order is a
major difference in the use of this frequency (BP); briefly, we encounter
two main differences between EP and BP: the absence of the confirmative
reading in BP and the different preferred orders of temporal "sempre":
postverbal in EP and preverbal in BP, which, being the latter language,
undertakes a series of parametric change, different from its sources in EP.

C. de Cat in: "Early 'Pragmatic' Competence and its Implications Regarding
the Null Subject Phenomenon" (p. 17-32) deals with the pragmatic problem
of subject omission in the language of adults and children; as long as
subjects are dropped in the English of adults out of pragmatic reasons and
under linguistic conditions, in the language of children such omissions
are ungrammatical. The author concludes that "children master the basic
discourse notion of topic, going against the assumption that children at
the null subject stage lack the pragmatic competence necessary to identify
and encode topics in a target like fashion".

In another paper "On the Impact of French Subject Clitics on the
Information Structure" (p. 36-46), C. de Cat defines two notions, that
of "topic" as "what the sentence is about" and that of "focus"
traditionally understood as the most informative part of the sentence,
referring to the status of clitics as subject in French. There are two
main interpretations of French clitics as "syntactic arguments bearing a
theta-role" as "mere inflectional morphemes on the verb".

Several intepretations of the subject clitics occur in the bibliographies:
(i) the XP coindexed with one such a clitic must appear outside of the
canonical subject position (ii) dislocated XPs are to be interpreted as
the topic of the sentence (iii) indefinites cannot be topics (iv) in a
spoken French the subject is a topic only if it is resumed by a subject

In spoken French, subject clitics appear only when the subject is the
topic of the sentence and are banned when they are in focus.

Heles Contreras in "A Restricted View of Head-Movement" (p. 47-68) depicts
the typology of head-movement, its instances and cases as : phonological
operations, internally driven head movement and no movement with such
applications as: inversions (T-to-C), verb raising (V-to-T) and "short"
and "long" N-movement. According to the verb-raising phenomenon, the
author emphasizes four types of languages, which are: V-raising and
subject raising, V-raising and no subject raising, subject-raising and no
V-raising, no V-raising and no subject raising. Another subject to be
mentioned is parametric variation, which is defined by Chomsky as "the
selection of different subsets of features from the pool made available by
Universal Grammar and the organization of the selected features into
lexical items in different languages (for example in English, Tense may be
a separate lexical item, whereas in Spanish tense is a feature of the

A more general classification of the types of head movement inversion, V-
raising, short N-movement and long N-movement divides them into three
classes: no movement (English inversion, short N-movement in Romance), PF
merger (English Affix Hopping) and internally driven head movement
(Spanish raising, long N-movement) in Romance.

Laura Dominguez in "The Effects of Phonological Cues on the Syntax of
Focus Constructions in Spanish" (p. 69-82) claims that prosody places its
own constraints on the realization of focus and that movement of
constituents in Spanish can be motivated by phonological factors; after
having analyzed different types of movement available in Spanish, the
author demonstrates the existence of correlations between phonological
requirements and word order, showing that word order is affected by
syntactic and prosodic requirements.

In "Optional Infinitives or Siklent Auxes -- New Evidence from Romance"
(p. 83-98), Ch. Dye is investigating the variation of non finite matrix
verbs instead of finite verbs in the language of children, through a
comparison of English, Spanish, French and Italian, attempting to explain
why children use infinitives in contexts where the adult grammar requires
finite verbs. The purpose of the work is providing a profile of the
differences of forms, of the selection of forms: why a given child
language may demonstrate more than one type of form and why certain child
language show certain types of forms and not others.

Mara Frascarelli in: "Dislocation, Clitic Resuption and Minimality. A
Comparative Analysis of Left and Right Topic Construct Italian" (p. 99-
118) deals with the syntax of clitic-resumed dislocated constituents and
with topics and topicalization from the point of view of A' movement.
Italian is described as a non clitic-doubling language which allows
multiple topics. The article is an evidence against a theory of argument
generation for (clitic-resumed) Topic constituents.

D. Isac's study "Focus on negative Concord" (p. 119-140) is focused on
languages which express negation more than once in a clause, that is to
say by sentential negative markers and by so-called N-words (languages
like Italian, Spanish, European Portuguese and Romanian). In Italian,
Spanish and an Portuguese N-words can occur with the negative marker only
if they are postverbal: in Romanian, N-words co-occur in the negative
marker irrespectively of the postverbal or preverbal position; if the N-
words are used in preverbal positions in Italian, Spanish and European
Portuguese, they are negative quantifiers; if they are in postverbal
position, they are Negative Polarity Items. The author accounts for two
types of asymmetries: (i) between the preverbal and the postverbal
position of N-words and (ii) between languages in which a preverbal N-word
co-occurs with a negative marker (Romanian) and languages in which a
preverbal N-word cannot co-occur with a negative marker (Italian, Spanish,
European Portuguese).

D. Isac and Ch. Reiss in: "Romance and 'Something Else'"(p. 141-162)
examine the syntactic and semantic properties of X-else elements
(something else, anything else, everywhere else, nobody else). They
emphasize two types of "else": an exclusive type which serves to exclude
previously mentioned individuals from the set of possible referents and
additive "else" which adds new referent to the one introduced by the
antecedent. "Else" appears in combination with various wh-words and
quantifiers, such as:

A. who/what/ when/where/how else (wh-else)
B. Somebody/ everbody/ nobody else (Q-else).

It differs from "other" and "different" since, though they all express a
comparison, "else" always contrasts subjects of different types: it allows
only one argument to be overtly expressed whereas the constituent
containing "other" or "different" can overtly express two arguments, the
term of comparison and the element subject to comparison.

A.T. Pérez-Leroux, Ch. Schmitt and A. Munn in their contrastive
article "The Development of Inalienable Possession in English and Spanish"
(p. 199-216) analyze the definite determiner in English and Spanish and
the inalienable construal (IC) as a sub-case of a possession relation in
circumstances where the possessed element is a part of the possessor
element rather than accidentally or legally related to it. English
children allow IC of the definite determiner in non-target language
contexts, the Spanish children allow IC more than English children in the
singular case, English children differentiate possessives from definite
determiners, while Spanish children distinguish the three structures (the
simple definite, the definite + possesive and the definite +

M.T. Vinet in "-TU in Québec French as a (Super) positive Marker" (p. 235-
252) proposes the analysis of an enclitic which appears in root finite
clauses with a variety of discursive and expressive effects; more
specifically, -tu is an affirmative operator merger to the left of IP, the
contexts in which -tu appears having a superpositive polarity reading or
identifying with a question, oriented towards an affirmation in the mind
of the speaker.

In another contrastive study, "Feature Checking and Object Clitic Omission
in Child Catalan and Spanish" (p. 253-268) the authors K. Wexler, A.
Gavarro and V. Torrens claim that object clitic omission in child grammar
has a non-accidental correlation with participle agreement. Though a
series of experiments with respect to the placement of clitics, to the
frequency of clitic presence or omission to the actual production of
participle agreement in the present perfect in Catalan and the
morphosyntactic shape of clitics produced by children, the conclusions
show that children speaking Catalan omit clitics more frequently than
children speaking Spanish; up until the age of three, Catalan speaking
children resort to omission, rather than clitic production, whereas
Spanish children produce obligatory object clitics from the first age.


The book is a collection of communications about Romance linguistics,
concerning both individual languages and contrastive studies, mainly
focused upon subjects of morphosyntax, such as: null subject in the
language of adults and children, subject clitics, the typology of head-
movement, Negative Concord, the influence of prosody on syntax. A series
of phenomena are studied through the methods of applied linguistics,
especially language acquisition and the differences between child grammar
and adult grammar.


Chomsky, Noam. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press

Chomsky, Noam & Morris Halle. 1968. The Sound Pattern of English. New
York: Harper & Row

Chomsky, Noam. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press

Cinque, Guglielmo. 1998. Adverbs and Functional Heads. Oxford: Oxford
University Press

Dobrovie-Sorin, Carmen. 1994. The Syntax of Romanian. Berlin: Mouton de

Frascarelli, Mara. 2000. The Syntax-Phonology Interface in Focus and Topic
Cnstructions in Italian. Dordrecht: Kluwer

Givón, Talmy. 1976. Topic, Pronoun and Grammatical Agreement. Subject and
Topic. Ed. by C. Li, 149-211. New York: Academic Press

Heim, Irene. 1982. The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases,
PhD Diss U. Mass

Isac, Daniela. 1998.Sentence Negation in English and Romanian. PhD Diss.
University of Bucharest

Rochemont, Michael. 1986. Focus in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam: John


Ioana-Ruxandra Dascalu studied Classical Philology and Literary Theory at
the University of Bucharest. Her main research interests go to Latin
Linguistics (including theories of Functional Grammar), historical
linguistics (especially the evolution from Latin to Romance languages),
general linguistics, French linguistics (modalities, semantics and
pragmatics), and intertextuality in ancient and modern canon.
Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue